The Best J. Lo Songs

Former ‘In Living Color’ Fly Girl Jennifer Lopez debuted on the charts in 1999 with a No. 1 single, and would go on to drop three consecutive multi-platinum albums, each with its own No. 1 single. Her success made her the country’s biggest mainstream ambassador for the Latin community; these are the J. Lo songs.

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Image via Getty/Christopher Polk

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Fox’s legendary sketch comedy show In Living Color introduced the country to Jim Carrey, the Wayans brothers, David Alan Grier, and Tommy Davidson. Ironically enough, though, the show’s most internationally recognized star wouldn’t come from the show’s main cast; she’d first appear on the 1991 third season premiere. After the show’s five-member dance troupe, the Fly Girls, performed their opening routine, Keenan Ivory Wayans welcomed the audience and formally introduced the women. He started with a woman in a tree-green bodysuit and dark red lipstick: “Coming all the way from Bronx, New York, Miss Jennifer Lopez.”

In less than five years, Jennifer Lopez wouldn’t need an introduction. She became a phenomenon whose reign lasted longer than In Living Color’s run (1990-94). Her combination of dancing ability, dulcet vocals, and Golden Globe nomination-worthy acting made her one of the ‘00s most defining stars. Of course, at the center of her legacy is her impressive run as a pop artist. A year after co-starring with George Clooney in the ’90s classic Out of Sight (not to disregard her role in the Selena Quintanilla biopic), Lopez debuted in 1999 with a No. 1 single, “If You Had My Love,” and would go on to drop three consecutive multi-platinum albums, each with a No. 1 single. Her worldwide success and iconic fashion looks made her the country’s biggest de facto mainstream ambassador for the Latin community.

J. Lo’s singles often bent their way into the day’s most popular pop sounds. This may read as trend-hopping, but that’s not the word you’d use for someone whose singles had as much longevity as Lopez’s does—her hits still go off. Revisit her career with our list of the best J. Lo songs, below.

10. “If You Had My Love” (1999)

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Album: On the 6

Producer: Rodney Jerkins

J. Lo’s legacy as one of the greatest pop stars can be largely attributed to “If You Had My Love,” one of ‘90s pop’s best first steps. While it took her perceived rival Mariah Carey, who stood toe-to-toe with her commercially, some time to catch on, Lopez’s debut single was a lightning strike that exuded so much confidence, you forget that it was just that: a debut. The track was the most potent dose of the J. Lo single formula: Grand production that paralleled the ongoing pop trend (that acoustic guitar mirrors TLC’s “No Scrubs”), a vocal performance that manages to be passionate despite its thinness, and a direct hook that burrows itself into your memory within two listens.

“If You Had My Love” was both big for its day—eventually reaching No. 1—and clairvoyant. Its Paul Hunter-directed video features internet users voyeuristically eyeing J. Lo as she performs the single, which is less sci-fi than reality in 2018. As for the song itself, it presented a superstar who’d still remain a major touchstone two decades later.

9. “Waiting for Tonight” (1999)

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Album: On the 6

Producer: Ric Wake, Richie Jones

“Waiting for Tonight” wasn’t a Hot 100 topper like “If You Had My Love,” peaking at No. 8, but it was a far more adventurous follow-up. The pulsing rhythm showcased Lopez as a star who could synthesize house, R&B, and pop at a mainstream level, a lane she’d swerve out of by her very next album, before it could get too tired. But “Waiting for Tonight” lives for the hook. The vulnerable lyrics, that descending melody, and those cathartic oooooo--ooooo-oooooohhsss are going to be karaoke mainstay for a while.

8. “Love Don’t Cost a Thing” (2000)

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Album: J. Lo

Producer: Ric Wake, Richie Jones, Cory Rooney

Lopez’s second album J. Lo would see her moving away from the house sounds of her first two successful singles and embracing hip-hop adjacent vibes, an aesthetic she’d stick with for the early part of the decade. The change made sense: She was dating Puff Daddy at the time and would go on to collaborate with Murder Inc. Still, Lopez was charismatic enough to shine in whatever framework she was put in, and “Love Don’t Cost a Thing,” with its thumping production, was a prime example. The lead single became a career essential, while its music video—another Paul Hunter joint—became one of the decade’s most memorable. We follow Lopez as she takes an impromptu trip to the beach after being spurned by her lover, and that final image of her throwing her bra at the camera—looking at the viewer as she glows in satisfaction—is one of her finest moments.

7. “Jenny From the Block” (2002)

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Album: This Is Me...Then

Producer: Troy Oliver, Cory Rooney, Poke and Tone

“Jenny From the Block” is by far one of Lopez’s most popular singles, as well as one of her most criticized. Some of the jabs are justifiable: J. Lo raps when she doesn’t have any bars, and the whole thing sounds too pop for a song that’s about authenticity. But “Jenny From the Block” stuck in the way most of Lopez’s best singles do—that magnetic presence. However you feel about “Jenny From the Block,” there is no such thing as a legit J. Lo list without including it. If you’re over 25, you know the hook.

6. "All I Have" (2002)

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Album: This Is Me... Then

Producer: Cory Rooney, Ron G, Dave McPherson

“All I Have” was everything you needed in an aughties hit from two stars who only trafficked in hits. Chirping throwback samples were the wave in the early Kanye West era of hip-hop, and here you have Debra Laws’ voice in the background. You needed iconic imagery, and that picture of LL Cool J and Lopez cuddled up in winter coats still pops up every now and then. Plus, breakup anthems are always in style. Unsurprisingly, “All I Have” went No. 1, marking another success in Lopez’s hot streak as well as a crucial hit for LL Cool J, who was enjoying an early decade career resurgence that included “Headsprung.”

5. “I’m Real (Murder Remix)” (2001)

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Album: J to tha L–O! The Remixes

Producer: Troy Oliver, Cory Rooney, L.E.S.

Lopez’s airy voice turned out to be the perfect foil for Ja Rule’s thug-love rasp. While the original “I’m Real” is fine, the remix is a classic because of how it captures the naivete of summer love. It’s all about that hook: Ja Rule and Lopez trade a romantic back-and-forth, before coming together to harmonize: “And IIIII/Can’t gooooo on/Without yooouuuu.” The video is a gem, too.—is there a more early-’00s image than Ja Rule in a headband and J. Lo in a pink velour suit?

4. “Ain’t It Funny (Murder Remix)” (2005)

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Album: Rebirth

Producer: Nyce Boy, Gregory Bruno, Cory Rooney

“Ain’t It Funny” isn’t as indelible as the “I’m Real” remix, but it’s still another example of Ja Rule and Jennifer Lopez’s chemistry. They sadly don’t share hook duties and mainly stick with consecutive verses, but Ja Rule’s brashness (“IT. MUST. BE THE ASSSS”) and Lopez’s tenderness is still an easy sell. The Murder remix also gives the original a near-complete facelift: The acoustic guitars are thrown away for the same seductive bloops heard on the “Flava in Ya Ear” remix. Lopez still sounds convincing here; kiss-offs like “Everybody gets a chance to burn/ You can take it as a lesson learned” would have been Instagram captions if the app had existed in 2005.

3. “I’m Gonna Be Alright (Remix)” (2001)

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Album: J to tha L–O! The Remixes

Producer: Poke and Tone

For some reason, Jennifer Lopez is really gifted at making hits about one post-breakup perspective: How it sucks, but you’re a strong woman who needs to move on. She just rejiggers the context a little bit with every single. Just before declaring her street authenticity literally a year later with “Jenny From the Block,” J. Lo took us through urban heartbreak with the “I’m Gonna Be Alright” remix. The Luniz “I Got 5 on It” sample is there to deliver the hip-hop authenticity, and if that wasn’t enough, there goes a Stillmatic-era Nas with two easy-going verses. But it’s Lopez’s determined hook that glues it all together.

2. “On the Floor” f/ Pitbull (2011)

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Album: Love?

Producer: RedOne

Say what you will about EDM-flavored, Pitbull-backed J. Lo: You know what time it is when that accordion comes up. “On the Floor” managed to become Lopez’s first Top 5 hit in nearly a decade and continues to make her a mainstay in mainstream dance clubs worldwide. Fans who’ve been paying attention realize that, in a way, “On the Floor” brings J. Lo back to her roots; her second-ever single “Waiting for Tonight” introduced her as the queen of the dancefloor.

1. “Get Right” (2005)

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Album: Rebirth

Producer: Rich Harrison, Cory Rooney

Rebirth, the last album released during her aughties peak, was the first J. Lo album that didn’t earn her a Top 10 single. Though the album itself ended up getting mixed reviews, Lopez hadn’t completely fallen off. An easy example is “Get Right,” an inspirational number for the ladies buoyed by that bubbling horn sample. Equally as essential is the music video, which features Lopez playing eight different roles in performances more Emmy-worthy than Shades of Blue.

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